N.J. reaches deal to close 3 firms that targeted elderly

Public domain image.

Public domain image.

New Jersey consumer affairs officials have reached an agreement to shutter three companies they say used highly aggressive and misleading telemarketing tactics to sell emergency medical response alert systems to elderly residents.

The settlement announced Wednesday calls for the companies and their owners to pay $295,545, which includes $206,000 in civil penalties and $8,669 in consumer restitution. The owners — Ezra Rishty, of Ocean Township, and Larry Ansell, of Tinton Falls — also agreed to be permanently barred from advertising and selling emergency alert systems in New Jersey.

Officials say the men sold the alert systems through their businesses: Life Aid Connect, Safety Alert USA LLC — also known as Med Aid Alert — and Mobile Alert. The emergency alert systems they sold allowed users to summon medical help via home-based or GPS satellite systems.

The system ranged in price from $159 to $299, with monitoring fees costing between $34.95 and $39.95 a month.

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They say customers were pressured to buy systems that weren’t delivered, didn’t operate properly or didn’t operate at all. Among other violations of state regulations, the companies made telemarketing sales calls to hundreds of consumers who were on the federal “Do Not Call Registry,” according to officials.

“Using deceitful telemarketing practices to exploit vulnerable seniors isn’t just cruel, it’s also illegal,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “This settlement sends a clear message that we will vigorously enforce our consumer protection laws and prosecute those who break them, especially those who prey on the elderly.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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